NCRA Board of Directors kicks off Court Reporting & Captioning Week

NCRA’s Board of Directors took time from their development meeting held this past weekend at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., to mark the start of the 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week with a video encouraging everyone to celebrate.

The video, which was posted on NCRA’s Facebook page and other social media outlets, has more than 3,200 views. In the video, Board members shared the following message:

We encourage everyone to join us as we celebrate our wonderful profession from Feb. 10 to 17 during the 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. No activity is too small to celebrate all that we do, in each day, in our professional careers. From capturing the record and preserving history, to providing captioning for broadcast news and live sporting events, to providing CART services for schools, churches, public events, and even theater productions, to ensuring that those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have equal access to important information: We are court reporters and captioners; and what we do, we do proudly. So let’s come together and celebrate our wonderful and rewarding profession. Let’s share with others the vast opportunities that exist when they chose this career path. Reach out to your legislators and ask for an official proclamation. Attend a career fair and introduce potential students to the world of steno and where our profession can take them. Demonstrate how realtime can benefit your judge or a friend’s judge. Mentor a court reporting student and let them know that the hard work in school is worth it. Join us, your Board of Directors, in celebration, and let’s make this the best Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebration ever.

Members can use the Court Reporting & Captioning Week Facebook frame when they post photos to the social media platform this week. The frame is an easy way to celebrate the week, perhaps with a steno selfie or a photo of you and some of your colleagues.

For the first time ever, NCRA is expecting official national proclamations recognizing the week from two lawmakers. Rep. Bradley Byrne from Alabama is slated to deliver a one-minute floor speech recognizing Court Reporting & Captioning Week on Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. ET. The speech can be viewed on CSPAN. NCRA will also post a link to the speech on its social media outlets.

In addition, longtime supporter U.S. Rep. Ron Kind from Wisconsin will honor court reporters and captioners in a statement he will submit for the record. Rep. Kind’s wife — Tawni Kind, RMR, CRR, CRC — is an official court reporter and a member of NCRA.

Reports continue to come in about the activities happening around the country as members of the court reporting and captioning professions celebrate their chosen careers with pride. Members of the Georgia Shorthand Reporters Association will visit their state capitol and request an official proclamation from lawmakers on Feb. 15. They will also host a meet-and-greet and hand out doughnuts to their supporters and state senators and representatives.

The California Court Reporters Association is calling on its members to celebrate the week by sponsoring a student to attend its Boot Camp event in honor of Farryn Ashley Nelson, a U.S. veteran and court reporter who passed away at 27 years old.

Court reporters in San Antonio, Texas, also report having received an official proclamation from lawmakers in that city. The proclamation was presented to several members during a small ceremony on the courthouse steps on Feb. 13. Also, on Feb. 19, the chief reporter for the state’s House of Representatives will visit with students in the court reporting program at San Antonio College.

Need more ideas on spreading the word during Court Reporting & Captioning Week? Check out the e-seminar Promoting the Profession. This e-seminar is for teachers, court reporters, and firm owners who would like to get more involved in promoting their profession. Veteran reporters Carolyn Ruiz Coronado, RPR, and Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, share how they use resources like career days, social media, state-wide recruiting networks, Google docs, and A to Z programs to spread the word about the court reporting and captioning professions. Uviedo, from San Antonio, Texas, is the 2016 and 2017 winner of the annual National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) Challenge. The presentation lasts one hour and forty-one minutes and is worth 0.15 continuing education units.

The aim of the NCSA Challenge is to encourage working professionals to reach out through career fairs and other activities to spread the word about what viable career paths court reporting and captioning are. NCSA will review and tally all submissions by members and state associations, and all entries will be eligible for prizes that include free webinars, event registrations, and more.

Giving back to the community: An interview with R. Michael Buie

Possum Talks presentation at the Terrell Unit near Rosharon, Texas

Michael Buie, RPR, CRR, CRC, president and owner of MBA Reporting Services in Plano, Texas, has been a member of NCRA since 1976 and is still a practicing freelance reporter. Throughout his career, he and his wife, Shari, have founded, organized, and participated in several community programs, including:

  • Love in Action for hospitalized children and their siblings
  • The Hearing Heart program, which provides captioning at a local church
  • GED (General Educational Development) classes to inmates

He currently co-teaches an addiction recovery program to inmates at two maximum-security prison units. He also volunteers for Possum Talks, a program he cofounded for incarcerated dads who want to learn how to be faithful fathers from behind bars, in which Buie and his team of 10 volunteers hold six workshops a year throughout north and south Texas.

 

The Possum Talks team poses for a group photo with participant inmates at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas

What prompted you to become involved with the Possum Talks?

I’ve always enjoyed teaching in different venues. In reporting school, I taught academic evening classes and attended full-time day school at McMahon College of Stenotype in Houston. As far as Possum Talks, Shari and I cofounded the organization in 2013. We both had taught addiction recovery to men and women for a couple years and saw firsthand the need to help incarcerated men understand how to be faithful fathers and communicate effectively with their children. There’s a lot of tension exhibited by incarcerated men because they see their children committing many of the same criminal acts, but they feel helpless to do anything about it from behind bars. This results in feelings of aggression, guilt, and hopelessness for many of them. The program is faith-based but structured to encourage men of all faiths or nonfaiths — Judeo-Christian, atheist, Muslim, Satanist, Naturalist, etc. — to value godly principles as the standard for being faithful fathers. We are proud of Possum Talks’ growth in five years. At the one-year mark, in 2014, the program received the Texas Governor’s Award for the most innovative new program in the Texas prison system. Since the program’s inception, Possum Talks has conducted 27 one-day or day-and-a-half workshops in eight different medium- and maximum-security prisons throughout Texas.

How long have you been involved in this work?

I have been involved with teaching inmates since about 2012, first teaching an inmate GED class in math, English, science, social studies, and writing skills. I also co-taught a weekly Bible class in what’s called the SHU, or Secured Housing Unit (maximum security), at Collin County Detention Center for two years. The men of the SHU are confined to a cell 23 hours a day. It was an honor for them to spend that one hour on Thursdays in Bible study with us.

A Possum Talks skit demonstrates communication techniques, at the Boyd Unit near Teague, Texas

What other community service activities do you support?

Shari and I also teach addiction-recovery classes at Buster Cole State Jail and Collin County Detention Center (Fannin and Collin counties) in maximum security. From 1985 to 1996, we both participated in civic outreach for children at what was then the Parkland Memorial Hospital Children’s Unit in Dallas. Shari founded the organization called Your Love in Action, which provided a yearly Christmas program with both corporate and individual donations, like toys, underwear, and health items. The program grew to the point that we filled two FedEx delivery vans, enough to supply hospitalized children (usually burn victims) and their siblings throughout the year. Shari and I, along with our son and daughter, participated as a family in the program for 10 years. I also founded a program called The Hearing Heart in 1996, which provided live CART captioning to individuals who are late-deafened and culturally deaf at a church in Plano, Texas. I and another captioner provided weekly captioning for as many as 20 congregants.

What are the greatest benefits personally and professionally to being involved in community service activities?

Though I’m now over 70 years old and anticipate retirement sometime, I still report as a freelancer and manage my firm. However, now, because of my age, I’m more interested in participating in efforts with eternal value, not just helping relieve social ills.

Why is giving back to the community important?

Giving back to the community is important because 1) it’s the community that provides an environment of peace and security to thrive in as a family and an individual, and 2) according to Matthew 5:16, I’m commanded to give back to the community in such a way that glorifies God, not me. Giving back demonstrates not only positivity to a society in jeopardy but also promotes goodwill and a spirit of cooperation and volunteerism without expectation of benefit or entitlement.

What advice would you give to someone who is seeking to become involved in community service activities?

1) Look at not only your skills as a reporter but 2) your uniqueness as a human being, what makes you unique above and beyond your professional skills, and 3) proactively seek out opportunities to offer these attributes for the good of others. There’s another place in Scripture where the Apostle Paul says that the end result is a resultant peace that transcends all understanding. That’s right where I intend to be during the rest of my reporting career and long afterward.

 

The JCR Weekly will run a series of interviews featuring NCRA members who are giving back to their community in addition to an article in the April issue of the JCR.

Remembering Hurricane Harvey

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez

By Laquita Dettman

In August 2017 on the western coast of Africa, an innocuous tropical wave formed and wandered out into the open Atlantic Ocean. What became a tropical depression entered the Gulf of Mexico nine days later. In fewer than 48 hours, that tropical depression exploded into a Category 4 hurricane with Texas set firmly in its crosshairs. America watched helplessly on Aug. 25 while under the cover of darkness, Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast with wind speeds of 130 miles per hour and, in some areas, a storm surge as high as 12 feet. Over the following days, Harvey hovered over Texas, dumping 51 inches of torrential rain onto the Houston area, resulting in disastrous flooding. In every way, Hurricane Harvey lived up to its forecast of a catastrophic storm.

It’s hard to imagine what those on the coast must have suffered over those days and the following weeks and months. While we saw the images on the news and heard accounts of devastation, most of us didn’t live it. Yet tens of thousands of Texans most certainly did.

Harvey was big, and in one way or another, all of us felt small. What difference could we make in the face of such overwhelming disaster?

The Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA), recognizing the immediate need of our fellow reporters of south Texas, set up a GoFundMe account and at the board of directors meeting in September created the disaster relief task force. The task force was charged with collecting and distributing funds so that those who needed assistance could realize it swiftly.

Whether they were Texans or not, TCRA members or otherwise, court reporters answered the call by giving of their resources generously, including donations from reporters in areas as remote as New York City. Those of us serving on the TCRA Board, while not surprised, were humbled to be reminded that we’re members of a greater court reporting community that recognizes no state boundaries and represents a culture of character and compassion.

At final tally, donations to TCRA’s disaster relief effort totaled over $16,000. Eleven applicants requested assistance, their needs and names held in strict confidence by the task force out of respect for the applicants’ privacy, and the funds were equally distributed among them. As soon as the checks went out, heartfelt gratitude to the task force poured in. Its purpose met, the task force was dissolved at the November meeting of the Board of Directors.

To the task force members — Lorrie Schnoor, RDR, CRR; Sonia Trevino; Cathy Busa, RPR; Kathleen Ullrich, RPR, CRC; and Linda Kaiser, RMR, CRR — TCRA thanks you for a job well done. To those who contributed to the court reporters of south Texas, whether through your thoughts and prayers, your financial contributions, or both, you made a difference. Thank you. To those of you who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, thank you for reminding us that tough times don’t last; tough people do. We hope your struggle is eased and that you’re well on your way to complete restoration. Know that you are in our continued thoughts and prayers.

Finally, to those of you nationwide who make up this fine court reporting family and fill us with pride, thank you — with love from TCRA.

Laquita Dettman is an official reporter in Midland, Texas. She can be reached at laquita.dettman@yahoo.com.

A similar article was originally published in TCRA Today on Dec. 19, 2017.

2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week kicks off in just over a week

NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, Feb. 10-17, kicks off in just over a week, and state associations, individual members, and schools around the country are finalizing their plans to celebrate. From contests to open houses to showcasing realtime at courthouses and at career fairs, the quest is in full swing to raise awareness about the career opportunities available in the court reporting and captioning professions.

Students go for the gold

In celebration of the week, NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee is sponsoring an Olympic-themed speed test open to all students at varying test speeds. The tests consist of five minutes of dictation at a speed level that each individual student is either currently working on or has just passed. In order to be eligible to win, students must pass the test with 96 percent accuracy. One Literary and one Q&A test will be offered, and the faculty at each school will be responsible for dictating and grading the material.

All students who pass a test are eligible for prizes; winners will be drawn at random for first (gold), second (silver), and third (bronze) prizes. Prizes will include a copy of NCRA’s RPR Study Guide ($125 value) for the gold medal winner, a choice of a one-year NCRA student membership ($46 value) or one leg of the RPR Skills Test ($72.50 value) for the silver medal winner, and a $25 Starbucks gift card for the bronze medal winner.

All students who participate in the contest, even if they don’t pass a test, will have their names and schools published in the Up-to-Speed student newsletter and the JCR. For more information about the rules and registration, please contact Debbie Kriegshauser or Ellen Goff.

Events around the country

To mark this year’s event, the Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA) is hosting its second annual virtual run, which is themed Peace Love Steno. The run is open to all court reporting and captioning runners, walkers, and exercise enthusiasts. Once participants sign up and register, they can plan their 5K walk/run, which can be completed on a treadmill, around their neighborhood, at a local park, or at the office. TCRA asks that all participants post pictures of themselves completing their walk or run on its Facebook page. The cost to register is $25, and those who complete the 5K earn an antique gold medal with bright psychedelic colors and a purple ribbon.

Theresa Reese, RMR, Honolulu, Hawaii, an official court reporter for the First Circuit Court, will be hosting an event that will include an information kiosk at her courthouse to raise awareness about the profession and the role court reporters play in the judicial system.

In Kansas City, Kan., a court reporter shortage at the Wyandotte County Courthouse has prompted official court reporter Rosemarie A. Sawyer-Corsino, RPR, to plan a meet-and-greet at the courthouse to raise awareness about the need for qualified professionals.

Members and states compete in the annual NSCA challenge

Everyone who participates in an event to celebrate 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week is also encouraged to enter NCRA’s National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) fourth annual challenge.

The aim of the challenge is to encourage working professionals to spread the word about what viable career paths court reporting and captioning are. NCSA will review and tally all submissions by members and state associations, and all entries will be eligible for prizes ranging from free webinars to event registrations. More information about the NCSA Challenge is also available at NCRA.org/government.

Still planning? Check out NCRA’s resources

Be sure to visit NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week resource center at NCRA.org/Awareness. The site provides numerous resources including:

  • press release templates that state associations, schools, and individuals can use to help promote the week and the profession
  • media advisories to announce specific events
  • talking points
  • social media messages
  • a guide to making the record
  • information on NCRF’s Oral Histories Project, including the Library of Congress Veterans History Project
  • downloadable artwork, including the 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and DiscoverSteno logos
  • brochures about careers in court reporting and captioning
  • a quick link to NCRA’s DiscoverSteno site that includes more information about the free A to Z Intro to Machine Steno program
  • and more

In addition, the 2018 resource center includes an updated, customizable PowerPoint presentation. The presentation is geared toward potential court reporting students and the public in general to bring awareness to the ample opportunities available in the profession.

Remember to share how you celebrate the week by sending information about and photos of your event to NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org. Everyone is also encouraged to share his or her activities on social media using the hashtag #DiscoverSteno.

Smith achieves court reporter certification

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Longview News-Journal reported on Jan. 7 that NCRA member Brenda Hightower Smith, RPR, CRR, from Longview, Texas, earned the nationally recognized Certified Realtime Reporter certification. The article was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Smith’s behalf.

Read more.

NCRA members show off speed at Cotton Bowl

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Star-Telegram, Dallas, Texas, posted an article on Dec. 28 about NCRA member Jennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Scottsdale, Ariz.; NCRA member Darlene (Rodella) Pickard, RDR, CRR, CRC, Marysville, Wash.; and NCRA Director Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Nashville, Tenn. Schuck, Pickard, and Menck attended the Cotton Bowl college football game to transcribe media interviews with players and coaches.

Read more.

Project preserving vets’ stories

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Seguin Gazette posted an article on Nov. 5 about a Veterans History Project event hosted by the Texas Court Reporters Association that captured the stories of five local veterans. The article quotes NCRA member Kathleen Ullrich, RPR, CRC, a local captioner who participated in the event.

Read more.

Get comfy for professional development: Exciting upcoming NCRA webinars

Front view of a person sitting barefoot on a couch with their laptop on their knees, blocking their faceCourt reporters and captioners understand the value of continuing education and always improving one’s skills, but it can be challenging to attend in-person events. With NCRA webinars, you can learn more about your profession from the comfort of your own home or office (not to mention that you can attend them in your slippers – no one will know!).

NCRA has a wide variety of topics coming up in the next month. The JCR Weekly reached out to the presenters to help whet your appetite.

On Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, will present “NCRA members performed very well in the competitions), and the next event is in 2019 in Sardinia, Italy.

On Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, Lisa Jo Hubacher, RPR, CRI, will present “Training for Realtime Writers grants in 2014 due to its curriculum redesign. In this webinar, Hubacher will discuss this curriculum model, including the redesign’s impact on the program, what’s working, and what needs tweaking. As she describes it, the webinar will cover “how to design a program based on student needs without any curriculum-design knowledge.” Hubacher says she’ll also talk about why “‘But that’s the way we’ve always done it’ doesn’t fly anymore.” This is a must-attend webinar for anyone involved in training reporting students!

On Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET, Santo J. Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, will present “Legal Terms, Part 1.” Aurelio has presented several language-related webinars recently, including “What Reporters Must Know about Punctuation” and “English Grammar Gremlins: Ways to Conquer Them” (now both available as e-seminars). Aurelio will present on more than a hundred and fifty terms, but he admits, “I really get a special kick out of four of them: alibi (in another place), durance vile (imprisonment), eleemosynary (charitable), and Esq.” He adds, “If I must pick one, then I guess it would be Esq., which is merely a title of courtesy, but attorneys think that it means ‘one who is an attorney.’” Aurelio will provide “economical but cogent explanations” for the words that he hopes each attendee will easily remember.

Finally, on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. ET, Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, will present “won her the NCSA challenge not just once, but twice in a row; in 2015, she organized participation in 13 career fairs in 15 days in San Antonio. “It is so easy and rewarding volunteering for a recruitment event,” says Uviedo. “You have the potential to reach hundreds, even if you only talk to 50.” Uviedo has also found the value in promoting the profession over social media, and she hints that “one cool thing I’ll talk about is having attendees take selfies of themselves in front of their court reporting machines and having them spread posts about court reporting.”

Members who attend the webinars will be able to ask questions directly to the presenter and get them answered right away. But if you are not able to attend the live webinar, they will be available as on-demand e-seminars after the fact. Keep an eye on NCRA’s e-seminar library for these and other topics to help grow as a professional.

PohlmanUSA announces donation to the American Red Cross in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyPohlmanUSA, based in St. Louis, Mo., recently made a donation to the American Red Cross “on behalf of all of our clients and reporters located in Houston and those affected by Hurricane Harvey.” In their announcement, the firm said, “We appreciate the first responders and volunteers for their heroic efforts to keep everyone safe across the southern United States during this extraordinary event of nature” and shared the link to the American Red Cross.

NCRA, TCRA, and TEXDRA working to assist members affected by Hurricane Harvey

A green steno machine and "TX" in white letters are imposed over the state of Texas in black

Image from the Reporters Helping Reporters GoFundMe campaign

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Harvey took its toll on Houston, Texas, and surrounding communities. Although the rains may be over, the devastation and cleanup is expected to remain a long-term issue. NCRA, the Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA), and the Texas Deposition Reporters Association (TEXDRA) want those affected to know that the organizations are already working to help.

In an effort to help ensure that member services are not interrupted during this difficult time, NCRA will offer flexible financing for dues and extensions on CEU requirements needed by those immediately affected by Harvey.

In coming weeks, NCRA staff will also begin following up on members in areas affected by the storm to offer additional support and resources. Members needing assistance can also reach out directly to NCRA by emailing msic@ncra.org or calling 800-272-6272.

NCRA is also encouraging individuals or firms to support relief efforts by donating funds to Reporters Helping Reporters, a GoFundMe campaign established by TCRA that will provide aid to members affected financially. To date, the site has surpassed its $10,000 financial aid goal.

NCRA also encourages individuals who want to donate used equipment or individuals affected by the hurricane who need equipment to visit the TEXDRA website for donation and request checklists and forms. Gift cards can also be donated via the TEXDRA website for distribution to members in need. Other links on the website include TCRA’s GoFundMe page, information about volunteer opportunities through the Red Cross, and tips on what to do next in the event of a disaster written by NCRA member Kelly Hanna, RMR, CRR, CMRS, a reporter and agency owner in Houston who has been flooded twice before. There is also information on how to donate to the Red Cross and the United Way Relief Fund.

“NCRA is not just your professional association. NCRA is your professional family. We want everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey to know that we are here to help you in any way we can,” said NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a court reporter and firm owner from Wausau, Wis. “Your NCRA and NCRF Board members and their staffs are holding good thoughts for you and your families and friends as you work through these trying times.